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BrewDog CEO and Willy Wonka Wannabe Pays Out Over $571K To Disappointed 'Golden Can' Winners

by Rudy Sanchez on 01/11/2023 | 2 Minute Read

Sometimes a promotion inspired by the children’s classic Willy Wonka can get away from a business leader, and BrewDog CEO and co-founder James Watt is the latest that can attest to this fact.

In late 2020, Watts channeled his inner Wonka with a promotion where the embattled Scottish-based brewery hid the cans, purportedly made out of solid gold, in random cases of beer. However, when some excited fans found an aureate IPA can in their order, disappointment quickly set in as the prize turned out to be hollow, brass-plated gold.

Unsurprisingly, several prize “winners” filed complaints with the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority, which ultimately concluded that the “solid gold” claims were indeed misleading. Now, in the latest chapter of Watt’s Wonka mishap, the BrewDog CEO has taken to his LinkedIn to say he’s compensated disappointed winners himself, chalking up the mistake to enthusiasm.

“I falsely thought the cans were made from solid gold when they were indeed only gold plated,” Watt explained in his lengthy LinkedIn post. “In my enthusiasm, I had misunderstood the process of how they were made, and the initial tweets I sent out told customers of the prospect of finding ‘solid gold cans.' It was a silly mistake, and it only appeared in around 3 of a total of 50 posts about the promotion, but as it turns out, those 3 tweets were enough to do a lot of damage.”

Watt further explained that compensation cost him approximately $571,500, over two and a half years’ worth of his personal salary.

The closing of the golden can fracas comes as BrewDog loses its B Corporation status following workplace harassment allegations investigated by the BBC in early 2022. B Lab, the organization that issues the B Corp certification to companies that meet specific ethical criteria, confirmed in a statement to The Guardian that BrewDog was no longer a certified B Corporation last month. However, Watt described the brewery as “stepping aside” from the B Corporation certification to focus on its own “BrewDog Blueprint” in an internal memo, according to The Guardian.

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